Top aides to Governor Hochul have offered boutique access and customer service to deep-pocketed elite donors eager to further their business interests in the state, according to a review of emails.
The 161 pages of emails show a vibrant buyer’s market for those interested in participating in the governor’s re-election campaign. Hochul has raised $34 million for his campaign so far and is on track to raise tens of millions more by election day.
In December 2021, Robert Trobe, former deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Family and Adult Services, was in extensive talks with the Hochul team about a fundraising campaign he was running with organizations. non-profit. Trobe is now a vice president at Alliant Insurance Services.
âIf we set the minimum contribution at $250 and get an average contribution per attendee of $300, I think we should be able to raise $30,000 to $50,000,â Trobe emailed Mackenzie Wasilick. , finance chief of staff of the Hochul campaign committee.
The trove of emails, the contents of which were first reported by the Albany Times Union, were obtained by The Post.
But Trobe wanted something in return: Hochul spoke out in favor of raising the cost of living for state-contracted social service workers, who help New Yorkers deal with various forms of addiction.
âCritical as the primaries approach, the Governor’s support for the inclusion of COLA in the upcoming budget. â¦ We had a productive first meeting with [Director of State Operations] Kathryn Garcia,â Trobe wrote. “If the Governor’s COLA commitment can be obtained, it will be extremely helpful in promoting this [fundraiser].â
In its $216 billion budget released in January, Hochul did well, pledging $500 million for social services cost-of-living adjustments â something Governor Cuomo had refused to do for each year of his term, The Albany Times Union reported.
Trobe and Garcia did not respond to requests for comment.
In February, Trobe personally donated $1,000 to Hochul’s campaign. A virtual fundraiser with nonprofit community leaders took place on April 18.
âThe governor came for a few minutes and spoke to us. It was a 10-15 minute thing. I took a few questions and left,â Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, former deputy mayor for health and human services, who attended the fundraiser, told The Post.
The revelations come as Hochul faces controversy for allegedly helping a contributor linked to $300,000 in campaign donations secure a $637 million contract from the state for rapid coronavirus tests – charging New- Yorkers double the price charged by other suppliers.
âIn New York State, bribery is basically legal. Donors make large contributions to candidates because they want something in return. And these emails show that donors are getting special access, special treatment, and special help from the governor’s staff,â said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, a group of surveillance. “It’s probably legal and how Albany operates, but it’s definitely unethical and wrong. The governor is supposed to serve the public interest, not the interests of the donor.
Wayne Chaplin, who attended another Hochul fundraiser near Rochester in October 2021, was also candid about his needs.
The event was hosted by Rob Sands, CEO of Constellation Brands, a producer and distributor of alcoholic beverages and the largest importer of beer in the United States.
The Brooklyn-born CEO of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirit was seeking support for a bill that would ‘require alcoholic beverages imported into New York must first be delivered to a licensed New York State wholesaler and kept in premises or a warehouse operated by a wholesaler. for a 24 hour period.
Southern Glazer, the nation’s largest wine and spirits distributor, would be a hit, while critics say the law would make it more prohibitive for smaller distributors and raise costs for consumers.
“See below for information that was discussed with the Governor of Rochester,” Chaplin wrote to Micah Lasher, Hochul’s Director of Policy in a Dec. 7, 2021 email. “I wanted to address the attachÃ© to you as further to this discussion as the governor has asked us to follow up with the staff.” He sent a two-page explainer explaining the bill.
On the day of the fundraiser, five different LLCs â all of which shared the same address with Southern Glazer’s Miami offices â donated a total of $25,000. Campaign laws prohibit a single company from donating more than $5,000 in total per year.
So far, Hochul has not taken a public stance on the alcohol issue. But in the background is her husband, William J. Hochul, who is general counsel and senior vice president of Delaware North, a Buffalo-based gaming and hospitality giant who also has an interest in the gambling business. ‘alcohol.
Southern Glazer’s bill is currently bottled up at the Government Investigations and Operations Committee by its chairman, State Sen. James Skoufis (D-Orange County).
âThis is a terrible bill. This is bad public policy. What other product that consumers love must first make a pit stop before it hits retail? The answer is none,â Skoufis told The Post. “Southern Glazer, they like to cajole, they like to try to bribe, they like to try to intimidate… He’s a very self-serving bill.”
Sands and Chaplin did not respond to requests for comment.
People close to former Governor Cuomo said they were surprised by the blatant pay-to-play.
“That’s definitely not how we fundraised or fundraised,” a former senior official said. âIt was inappropriate to speak about affairs of state, and it was strongly, strongly discouraged.â
Governor Hochul’s representatives have denied any involvement of impropriety.
âAs public servants, government employees receive daily communications from a wide range of New Yorkers. We welcome the views of different advocacy groups on policy issues, but every decision is made by the Governor and his team based on what is best for New Yorkers. No donation has influence over government decisions, and we strongly reject any implications to the contrary,â spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays said.